Readathon, Readathon update, Uncategorized

Dewey’s Read-a-thon

Good morning! Dewey’s 24-hour read-a-thon is finally here! It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to participate like I’ve wanted to. Since it’s the beginning of spring break, I can dive in and just spend the day reading.

My stack:


  • Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Bull by David Elliot
  • Circe by Madeline Miller
  • Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
  • The Iliad illustrated by Gareth Hinds


Hour 1 – Getting to Know You Survey

1)What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Southern California. More specifically, my kitchen table.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I’m looking forward to all of them, though I heard that Black Leopard, Red Wolf is pretty gory.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I haven’t bought snacks yet! That’s a big no-no, but I will go out and buy some fruit later on.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I’m a single mom of four who’s currently going to school while working. I’ve been participating in the read-a-thon on and off since the very first one.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I wouldn’t do anything differently. My advice to read-a-thoners, whether you are new to this event or not, is to just have fun and enjoy yourself. It’s like a holiday for bookworms.

nonfiction, Sunday Salon


Currently:// Sitting at one of my favorite spots in my home: my kitchen table. My table is medium brown and wooden; it’s not too long or too short. It’s the perfect height and length to sit at and drink a cup of coffee or read a book. I even prefer to do my homework on it. A window is next to my table, so I can easily look out and light filters in throughout the day.

andersonReading:// I’ve been dipping in and out of books for the past few weeks. Right now, I’m reading We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding our racial divide by Carol Anderson. I had no idea the book is a young adult adaptation of her bestselling work, White Rage, which she wrote several years ago. The book starts at the Civil War and continues until the presidency of Barack Obama, highlighting America’s progress on racial equality and the ways it was been steadily countered by a calculating opposition. Two steps forward, three steps back.

I’m finding the book to be an eye-opener. I wished every thing the author writes about was taught in schools. I’m finding the book to be so insightful that I already bought my own copy to share with my kids.

Thinking about:// time management. The semester started two weeks ago and I’m already worried about finding enough time to read, write, blog, study, and work. But it’s going to happen. I’m going to figure out a way to do all the things I need and want to do.

Listening to:// as many podcasts as I can. My job is so quiet that staff can listen to podcasts and audio books while they work. From The Slowdown to Levar Burton Reads to Fresh Air, I’m listening to fascinating content and finding new books to read.

Now I’m off to:// visit blogs and plan my week.

What are you up to today? What are you reading?

poetry, Sunday Salon


Right now: // It’s early Sunday morning and everyone else is asleep. The heater’s on and it’s nice and cozy. Plus, I have a steaming cup of coffee right next to me. I try to wake up early on Sundays to reflect on the past week and plan what I need to accomplish in the upcoming days. It helps my week run a bit more smoothly.

Reading: // Palaces for the People: How social infrastructure can help fight inequality, polarization, and the decline of civic life by Eric Klinenberg. I first heard about this book on the podcast, The Librarian is In, and knew it was the book for me. Klienenberg is a sociologist who discusses how public shared spaces like libraries, parks, and places of worship can help strengthen communities and bridge the divide between people. I’m less than twenty pages in and I’m already using post-its.


Up Next: //Both of my picks for this week have been featured on several 2018 “best of” lists.  Brown: poems by Kevin Young and The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline. I don’t read enough poetry and this is the year that I’m trying to change that. It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve been trying to get my library to buy Brown for a while and they finally did. I don’t often read YA books or even dystopian fiction, but Dimaline is an indigenous writer and I want to support her work by helping it get as many check-outs as it can at my library. The more checkouts a book receives, the more likely the author’s other books are bought and along with similar titles.


Listening to:// How Long ‘til Future Black Month? by N.K. Jemisin. I haven’t read any of the author’s books, but I have listened to a few of her short stories before.  So far, so good.

Watching: // Sometime today, I plan on watching Melissa McCarthy in Life of the Party. My daughter loved this movie, so now it’s my turn to watch.

Now I’m off to: // Start my day.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon, Uncategorized

Three years

It’s been almost three years since my last post. To say that time flies is such a cliché, but it’s the truth. In three years, my youngest has went from being a newborn to a bouncy toddler. My oldest kids are mostly in high school and life has changed so much. I went from a being a stay-at-home mom to a library clerk and undergrad.

Yet through it all I’ve often thought about writing, about coming back to this blog or finding someone (anyone!) I can discuss books and reading with. I’ve wondered how my blogging friends are doing, what are they up to, and are they still blogging. At times, I’ve found myself on your blogs, peeking in a bit.

I think it’s time for me to come back to blogging. Or at least dip my toe in the waters again. I can’t wait to really see what you all have been up to.


Reading:// I’m currently in the middle of Wayétu Moore’s She Would Be King. It’s about the lives of three people gifted with heightened abilities and the creation of Liberia. The book is filled with magical realism. The book’s pace has been slow in places, while sometimes I can’t turn the pages fast enough. It’s beautiful and devastating.

Preparing://For my week. I’ve realized that when I sit down on Sundays to prepare for my week, gather my thoughts, and figure out what I need to accomplish, my week happens more smoothly. I have less hiccups and when the unexpected happens, I’m not caught off guard.

What are you up to today? What are you reading/doing/thinking about?

Sunday Salon, Uncategorized

Sunday Salon

Good morning! It’s early Sunday morning and the whole family’s already up and about. I have a quiet baby in my lap and a cup of coffee next to me. The sun is shining and pancakes are being made. Heaven.

Reading: // Last week, I finished my first audio book in years: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve been waiting for the last installment of The Raven Boys series and Scribd has it. It was a good read, but there are still so many unanswered questions! Jenny, what did you think of it?

After The Raven King was a graphic novel about WWE wrestler Andre the Giant and the latest volume of Rat Queens. Reviews are coming up this week.

Louise Erdrich’s newest book, LaRose, is up next. This tale of loss and redemption has received a lot of positive reviews. Erdrich is one of those writers who’s been on my to-read list for years and yet I’ve still haven’t read anything by her.

Gardening: // I love my little plots at the community garden. Southern California is having some warm weather right now, so I’m there every day to water my plants and do some weeding. We’re growing carrots, tomatoes, onions, basil, beans, strawberries, fennel, corn, and bellpeppers. We’re pretty much growing whatever we can think of!

We’re newbies, so it’s been some hits and misses. Strawberry plants have died, weird mold on the peas. . .but we’re getting there.

This week: // summer vacation is here!! I’m so happy! I’m sure Avram is happy too. Now I can read as much as I can without worrying about homeschooling. I’ll share my summer reading list in a few days with you all.

As much as I love the end of the school year, I also love planning for the new school year. My older kids are both leaving public school to come back home, so I have a lot of planning ahead of me.

Now I’m off to: // have breakfast. What are you up to today?

Readathon, Uncategorized

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon!

2nd Update- Hour 14

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now? I started Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg pre-readathon, so I think I’ll finish it now.
2. How many books have you read so far? 2 I recently finished both books from the Delilah Dirk series by Tony Cliff and an essay, Justin Cronin’s “My Daughter and God”.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Hmmm. That’s a good question.  I think it’s the latest volume of The Wicked + the Divine.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Oh my God. I’ve had so many including a kid falling and scrapping their nose and lip. But that’s life for you. I’ve just dealt with it all and read when I could.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? I think the cheering on Twitter. There are so many people tweeting about the readathon guys!!! It’s amazing! I love it.

If you’re doing the readathon today, how’s your reading going? If you’re not, how’s your evening coming along?

1st Update


Piper decided to do the readathon with me. Her first book? Secret Paris. It’s about all the places tourists don’t know about and should visit. Her dream is to go to Paris in a few years.


I’m still on my first book, Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff. I’m almost finished and ready to dive into The Best American Essays 2015 edited by Ariel Levy.


I’m up, y’all. Barely, but I’m up. With a 5 a.m. start time, it’s a tad harder for me to get up than most read-a-thon participants. I’m currently sitting in bed, next to a sleeping nine month-old and listening to my coffeepot go off.

Opening meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Southern California
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Hmmmm. Maybe the Delilah Dirk series by Tony Cliff. I have so many graphic novels in my stack, that I’m hoping to get through all of them.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Sadly, I haven’t gone to the store yet.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I’m a mom of four who dreams of being a librarian one day. Plus, I’ve participated in most of the read-a-thons since the very first one years ago.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? The one thing I’ll do differently is PARTICIPATE! Life took over last time and I didn’t get a single book read.

Happy reading!

Sunday Salon, Uncategorized

Sunday Salon – April 17, 2016


Time: // 11:39 a.m.

The scene: // It’s a quiet Sunday morning as half the house has gone shopping and the baby is asleep.

It’s been so long since my last post, but that’s just life right now. At first, I felt guilty for not being able to blog and read more. Now? I’m okay with it. Sooner or later, I’ll find a balance. In the meantime, I’m squeezing books in when I can and enjoying life with a crawling, giggling, headstrong, adventurous nine-month old.

Reading: // I actually finished five books last week! Granted, they were short books, but that’s five more than my total for the whole month of March. My two adult reads were The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna and Sugar Snaps and Strawberries by Andrea Bellamy. Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael S. Bandy and and Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter are two children’s books that deal with African Americans and voting. Snap by Hazel Hutchinson is a fantastic children’s book about the power of creativity.

PicMonkey CollageHave you ever been in the middle of a book and knew that you needed to reread it? I’m not a big re-reader, but that’s what I’m currently going through. Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhrigg and How to Tutor Your Own Child by Marina Koestler Ruben are my latest reads. I’m finding that I need to go back and reread both books from the beginning, taking notes as I go. There’s just so much information I want to remember. Plus both are worthy of reviews.

When it comes to nonfiction reads, do you take notes or just hope you remember the important points?

The kids and I bought two plots at our local community garden, so Sugar Snaps gave me a lot of much-needed advice. We started planting seeds at the end of January and until this morning, we had two overgrowing beds filled with veggies. The kids planted so many different seeds that I don’t even remember what everything is.  We’ll do better next time.

Avram checking out his peas.


I would post more pictures, but WordPress doesn’t want to behave itself.

Almost forgot about: // Dewey’s Read-a-thon!! Can you believe it? There’s no way that I’m going to be able to read as much as I want to on Saturday, so I’m thinking about spreading my reading over the next few days and just cheer on Saturday. We’ll see.

What are you up to today?


Sunday Salon

The scene: // It’s a windy and wet Sunday morning. The sun is out, but not for long as rain is in the forecast. I’m typing up a quick post before I start on our Sunday dinner of short ribs.

January was filled with a ton of changes including moving into my new townhouse. I spent February trying to adjust while also turning this new house into a home. Even with the hectic month, I still got a lot of reading done with mainly comics and children’s books. 28 books read in all. The best books of February includes the Lumberjanes series, Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor, and biographies about Helen Keller and Typhoid Mary.

My March TBR pile includes books in a variety of genres. My goal is to read more books out of my comfort zone and I think this stack will do just that. There’s no way I can finish this stack in a month, but these are the books I’m focusing on.


Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong is a book that I started reading a few days ago thanks to Joy. The beginning could’ve been trimmed down a tad, but I’m enjoying it so far.
The Best American Essays 2015 edited by Ariel Levy.
The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States by Ira Berlin
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Clearly (a read-along with my son)
Pax by Sara Pennypacker (middle grade)
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (sci-fi)
The Lives of Frederick Douglas by Robert S Levine
Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain by Dana Suskind
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson (sci-fi)

That’s a lot of heavy reading and I may have to lighten it up some.

Now I’m off to start cooking.

What are you up to on this beautiful Sunday?

children's books, Graphic format, Higher Elementary, nonfiction

Review: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #5: The Undergorund Abductor

23167768Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #5: The Underground Abductor
Nathan Hale
128 pages
First published in April 2015 by Amulet Books
Where did I get this? From my local library

Growing up, I didn’t read much nonfiction. As a kid and even as a teen, I think the closest I got to reading nonfiction was with historical fiction like Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. Kids nowadays have so many engaging non-fiction titles to choose from, that it almost makes me wish I was growing up today. Almost.

In Nathan Hale’s latest volume of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, Harriet Tubman is the subject of choice. Readers first meet Tubman as Arminta Ross, a six year-old slave who’s been rented out to a local family. When she can’t get the hang of weaving, Arminta is taught how to check muskrat traps in the swamp. The job is a cold and hard one, as the young girl catches the measles and ends up with bronchitis. After recovering, she’s hired out again and the next family isn’t any better.

Readers also see what happens when Arminta accidentally gets in the way of an irate slaveowner who tries to injure another slave. It took her months to recover from her traumatic head injury and even then, her owner tries to sell her.

After a series of events, Arminta Ross becomes Harriet Tubman, badass abductor of the Underground Railroad. She travels back and forth from the South to Canada and various places to help slaves get to freedom. The journey was so scary that Tubman really did keep a pistol on her in case someone wanted to turn back instead of completing the trip.

I was amazed at Tubman’s courage to go back and forth, helping strangers and reuniting her family. You can’t help but be in awe at her determination even as she risked her own life and freedom. I laughed at the jokes and felt sadness when Tubman was never able to rescue her sister, nieces, and nephews.

Nathan Hale does a wonderful job presenting Harriet Tubman’s life in graphic format. The story is rich with details and includes a bibliography in the back for more information. Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor is a book that needs to be on the shelf of every library. It’s a book that’s perfect for readers in higher elementary school to adults. I will warn you; once you read this book, you’re going to want to reread it right away. Plus, there are four more books in the series with a sixth book being published in March 2016.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday Salon, Uncategorized

Sunday Salon

Time: // 5:44 a.m.

The scene: // It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get up early and write a post while the family sleeps. Keeping up (or trying to) with a seven month old is pretty much a full-time job. Before Gigi came along, my youngest was ten years old, so I’m starting all over again, relearning parenting lessons that I should’ve remembered. Like the fact that you almost have to have laser-beam focus on very young kids. Turn your back and your kid will find something to put in their mouths. Since Gigi doesn’t really believe in daytime naps, I’m usually one of the first to go to sleep and sometimes I’m still not the first to wake up.

Drinking: // nothing right now, but after this post I’m putting on some coffee.

This week: // I actually finished two books! I don’t know how it happened, but it needs to happen more often! The first book I read was Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor by Nathan Hale. The book is an engaging and fast-paced graphic biography about Harriet Tubman. The intended audience is middle school readers, but don’t let that stop you from picking it up. If you read the Goodreads reviews for this, you’ll see that even adults love it.

Luckily for me, this isn’t the only history-based graphic biography that Hale has published. Before I finished The Underground Abductor, I went online and put all of his other graphic nonfiction on hold.

The second book I read this week was Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story about the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. This is another excellent middle grade nonfiction read that adults can also enjoy.

Reflecting on: // Lent. Every year Bryan writes a post about Lent and what he’s going to give up or add to his life. His posts always makes me want to make a change. This year, I jumped in and decided to give up sugar for Lent. Sugar is such a big thing in my life. I love sweets. It’s been hard and there have been occasions where I ended up eating something sweet without thinking. It’s making me realize how sugar is in so many foods.

Now I’m off to: // make pancakes. The family’s up so it’s time for me to start my day.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

Time: // 8:27 a.m.

The scene: // I’m currently sitting at my kitchen table, holding Gigi, and drinking a cup of coffee as I type this post. The sun is shining brightly into my window and I still can’t believe my luck.

Almost three weeks ago, I received a call about an available townhouse in a complex that I’ve been hoping to move into for years. Within hours of the call, my family and I were moving in. According to my nine year old, I went through the townhouse screaming with joy. I don’t remember that, but I can say that the past few weeks have been wonderful.

Reading: // Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year has been sitting on my nightstand unread since last week. Instead, I’ve been diving into Lumberjanes since Scribd have more current issues. If you haven’t started reading this series, you need to start.

It is so hard trying to find time to read with a small child. You would think I would’ve remembered that since I’m the mother of four, but it’s funny how time can make the early years of motherhood a blur. I’m trying to make reading a daily habit, but it’s been a struggle. For now, cookbooks, graphic novels, and short reads are in my future.

Today: // and tomorrow I’m unpacking the last boxes and putting everything in its place. Is it me or is it crazy how long it takes to fully unpack a house? I might watch snippets of today’s football game, but it’ll be while folding clothes or doing housework.

Loving:// the new place.

Hating: // nothing right now! Life is good!

Making: // Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake. My home wouldn’t be complete without it.

What are you up to this beautiful Sunday?

cookbooks, nonfiction, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: Thoughts

sunday salonIt’s been over three months since I last wrote a post. Three brutal months that have left my family and I changed–but for the better. There have been many times that I found myself composing a blog post in my head. Many times that I didn’t bother to write down those thoughts. There was just so much going on and I couldn’t find the energy or desire to be online. Sorry to be so vague, but what happened isn’t just my story but my family’s.

During those hard months, my reading mojo came and left. There were books like The Dresden Files series that helped coax my mojo back for a short while, but overall, I didn’t read much. Now that things are much better, I can concentrate on more than just surviving.

Cooking is one of the things I’m looking forward to doing more of this year. There’s something about preparing a meal with and for your loved ones that is comforting to the soul. It’s also a good way to create memories.

My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl follows her life after Gourmet magazine was shut down. I’ve just started the book, but I already love her conversational tone. The editors of Food52 compiled 60 of their favorite recipes in Food52: Baking. I’ve already gone through the book and picked more than a dozen treats to bake including their cardamom currant snickerdoodles. A girl can’t live on sugar (and coffee) alone, so Besh Big Easy: 100 Home Cooked New Orleans Recipes by John Besh is another cookbook that’s on my nightstand. After only a glance through the book, Besh’s Cajun Stuffed Pork Chops are going to be cooked this week.

Forgive me, but I’m going to keep this post short. It’s hard to ease back into writing a post when you’ve been away from blogging so long. Though I haven’t been online much, that doesn’t mean you guys weren’t on my mind. I’ve missed you all so much and look forward to seeing what you all have been up to.


Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon is here!!!!

Okay, I wasn’t going to join today’s read-a-thon, but changed my mind at the last minute. It’s not easy missing this event and I can’t help but miss Dewey more on read-a-thon day. She was such an amazing person.  So here I am 5 o’clock in the morning with a fresh cup of coffee and an energetic three month old in my arms. I don’t know much reading I’m going to be able to get done, but that’s okay. I’m just going to read and think of Dewey.

My stack:


  • The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman (fairy tale retelling)
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X (memoir)
  • A House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros (memoir)
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Rene Ahdieh (fairy tale retelling)
  • A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (YA)
  • The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (memoir)
  • March Vols. 1 and 2 by John Lewis (graphic memoir)
  • not pictured: Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Sherlock retelling?) and anything interesting that I can find on Scribd

Introduction Survey
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Southern California

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? There’s so many interesting books in my stack and it’s hard to choose just one. Maybe the Arabian Nights retelling The Wrath and the Dawn by Rene Ahdieh.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? For the first time ever, I don’t have many snacks. I’ll probably just eat granola bars. Boring I know.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! For the past eight years, I’ve been blogging. I even participated in the very first read-a-thon with Dewey. Plus, I’m a mother of four kids ages 14, 12, 10, and 3 months.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?  The most important thing is to always have fun.

I’m off to read! Are you joining today’s read-a-thon?

Goodreads Update

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of ImaginationVery Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


View all my reviews

Monthly goals, reading

Looking Forward to October and #15in31

Well I was looking forward to October. I received some bad news yesterday, so we’ll see what happens with the rest of the month.

September had its good moments. My oldest son, Oliver, decided (at the last minute) to go back to public school. That means that days before the first day of school, I was running around trying to buy what’s left of school uniforms and registering him for his school of choice. He didn’t get in, but he’s pretty content with the school he was transferred to. I’m content with him being at school. It’s one less kid to worry about or have to make lesson plans for. Avram, my youngest son, hates that his brother is gone during the day, but is getting used to the whole idea.

I didn’t read as much as I wanted to last month. I was in a heck of a reading rut, but the few books I read were pretty good. The month’s best books were:


Jackaby by William Ritter (supernatural mystery)
Beastly Bones by William Ritter (supernatural mystery)
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown (graphic nonfiction)
The Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown (graphic nonfiction)

If you haven’t read the last two books, please put them on your library holds list now. You won’t regret it.


Andi (Estella’s Revenge) came up with a fantastic idea. She’s hosting a challenge called #15in31, where she tries to read 15 books during the 31 days of October. I’m still weeding books from my bookshelves, so I decided to join Andi. At least then I can say that I read some of the books I got rid of. I doubt I’ll get anywhere close to reading 15 books this month, but I want to try. Some of the books on my stack includes:



The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and The Ocean at The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman . After reading both books, I was sure I liked them but not sure if I loved them. I’m hoping with a reread, I’ll figure out if I want to keep them or not. I may squeeze in my favorite Gaiman of all, American Gods.

The Night Circus is a book that I’ve been meaning to read to my daughter for ages. Now is the perfect time with it being fall. As anyone listened to it on audio? How is it?

New Books

Marvels by Brain Selznick. I loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret and enjoyed Wonderstruck. Selnick has a wonderful imagination and reading his stories and looking at his illustrations is always a good way to spend a few hours.

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. This retelling of Arabian Nights has been receiving so many positive reviews. I can’t wait to start reading.

March Vol. 2 by John Lewis. If you haven’t read the first volume of March, you need to start soon. My only complaint about the first volume is that it’s too short. March is a powerful trilogy about Lewis’s rise in the Civil Rights Movement.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book has been on my tbr shelf for too long.

So that’s just a few of the books I’m reading this month. What are you looking forward to in October?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: What’s Your Story?

sunday salon

Time: // 7: 37 a.m.

The scene: // ALL of my kids are up right now. It’s Sunday and they act as though it’s a school day! I was hoping to get some work done this morning. It’s going to be harder to do now, but still doable. The kids and I have been passing a cold back and forth to each other for over a week. Now it’s my turn again and I’m hoping not to give it to the baby. There’s nothing more stressful or sadder than a sick newborn.

Eating and drinking: // keeping with Sunday tradition, I’m making stacks of pancakes later. For now, I’m drinking my second cup of coffee.

Reading: // I finished Beastly Bones, the second Jackaby book. I enjoyed it more than the first book. The series is just what I needed to get out of a reading funk. Now I have to try and patiently wait for the next book.

Thinking about: // stories again. A few months ago, I read an interesting New York Times article about the narratives we tell ourselves about our lives. The stories we internalize about ourselves is so important and shows just which events we include and exclude about the past.

My daughter, along with many of the teens in our neighbor, had a few mishaps this summer. One of her recent assignments was to write an autobiographical narrative. The story she wrote excludes a lot of her accomplishments – almost all of them – and includes the recent failures and mistakes she’s made. The narrative that’s going through her head is one in which she’s more of a villain. We’ve been talking about the story she’s telling herself and how to change it.

It made me think about my own narrative. I know bits and pieces of my story, but I’ve never stopped to think about what I’m saying to myself. It’s something I plan to explore in depth more.

Now I’m wondering: // what’s your story?

It's Monday, reading

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s been too long since my last post. I’ve missed you all so much! The baby’s sleep, so let’s see if I can write and post this before she wakes up.

PicMonkey Collage
I actually read a book last week! It’s such an amazing feeling when you finish a book after such a long period of doing everything but reading. Last week, I received a copy of William Ritter’s Jackaby and his newest book, Beastly Bones. I dove into Jackaby and finished it in a day. The book has been described as “Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and it kind of fits. I just started Beastly Bones and I plan on finishing it soon.

Now that I’m reading again, I want to be ambitious and make a reading list for the week. Up next, I hope to read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander with Shannon (River City Reading). If I’m lucky (I probably won’t be), I’m including Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman and X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz.

What are you reading this week?


Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time and scene: // It’s 7:53 am and already it’s 73 degrees. It feels hotter than that. Fall needs to come already. I’m ready for pumpkin muffins, stews, and El Niño.

Most of the house is asleep, so I’m taking this quiet time to write my first post in weeks. It’s been so long since I’ve had a new baby that I’m relearning certain things all over again. One of them is that there’s never enough time in a day. Between homeschooling and taking care of Gigi, along with regular household duties, there’s always a huge list of things that don’t get done. I’m finally becoming more okay with that. It drives me crazy that my house can be a mess or that I’m not reading much, but for now, it’s the norm.

Reading: // nothing! Sadly, I haven’t read anything in over a week. I went to the library and checked out a ton of books so maybe something will catch my eye. If I can, I’ll post my library loot in a few days.

Thankful for: // all the birthday wishes and congratulations! My birthday was celebrated with cake and being taken out for dinner.

I’m also thankful for the fact that I found a new place! I’ve been searching a long time for a decent place that’s bigger and in my price range. Now I’m waiting for a unit to become available which can take months. I’m so eager to move that I’ve already started packing. I’ve lived in the same place for ten years now, but it’s time to go. As I type this, my next door neighbor is currently blaring The Bee Gees. Did I mention that he’s singing along at the top of his lungs?

Waiting for: // Carl’s R.I.P. Challenge to start! I don’t have a list yet, but the kids and I are planning on participating.

Now: // I’m off to start my day.

What have you been up to? What are you currently reading?

Sunday Salon

Back to Basics

sunday salon

It was exactly a month ago that I gave birth to Gigi. Life is taking on a new normal as my family adjusts to Gigi and she adjusts to the world around her. I feel so grateful to my mom and kids. They’ve been a big help. Right now, most of the family is asleep and I’ve already inhaled a cup of coffee. The writing bug seem to have hit me lately, so here I am typing away instead of staying in bed.

Thinking about: // my birthday that’s coming up this Thursday. In the past, it felt like too much to celebrate since one of my sons have a birthday two days before mine. This year I feel differently. I want to celebrate my birthday in a simple way. I also want to reflect on my life so far.

Bryan (Still Unfinished) has this wonderful tradition in which he picks books to read and reflect on during his birthday month. I thought about doing that, so I may finally read Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World. I bought it years ago when it was first published, read snippets of it, but never finished it. I also feel like I need to reread Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit  for inspiration. It’s self-help for creative types, but I think almost anyone can benefit from reading it.

Now that I’m turning 33, I’ve been thinking about an old passion. When I was younger, I used to write and create art in my art journal every single day. Even with kids, even while homeless, even when life was hard and dark and hopeless, I would write or paint. My journal wasn’t just a journal; it was my commonplace book, my diary, my sketch book, my prayer book. Anything that I wanted to say went into my journal.

Some of my old journals.

A few years ago, my older kids’ dad stole the journal I was working on at the time and ripped it to shreds with his bare hands. It was a journal thick with paint and words, two hundred pages at least. I was so devastated. And since then, I rarely use a journal. I buy them every now and then, but can never conjure up the enthusiasm I once had.

That’s going to change.

It’s time for me to start creating again. The world has been pretty dim without my constant paper companion. I’m going to fake enthusiasm until the day comes when I don’t have to. This won’t be easy, but of course, not everything is.


She’s Here!

photo(1)Time: // 9:03 a.m., Sunday morning

The scene: // I’m sitting at my desk, holding my newest arrival. Ms. Gwendolyn a.k.a. Gigi was born a few days after my last post. After 19 hours of labor, she was in my arms. The past week and a half has been surreal. I feel like I’m in a dream and keep wanting to pinch myself, it’s so good. The kids love Gigi and fight over who gets to hold up. I’m so blessed.

Feeling: // pretty good though my daughter insists on being up throughout the night.

Currently reading: // I haven’t been able to read since giving birth, but I plan on trying to again. Two weeks ago, I started reading Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam. It’s about how the American Dream has become harder for young people to acquire and why that is. Putnam writes about the economy our grandparents and parents were born and thrived in compared to the present economy. He also discusses how familial makeup, the way we parent our children, education, and community play a huge role in whether or not people are able to have the opportunities needed to fulfill their dreams. A lot of what Putnam writes about is not new, but it does remind people why things are the way they are.

Thank you for: // all the well wishes on Instagram and Facebook. It’s easier to post pictures than it is to write a full blog post.

Now: // I’m keeping this short but sweet since Gigi is asleep.

What have you been up to?

reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: My favorite books of June

Time: // 2:05 p.m.

The scene: // For the first time ever, I am days past my due date. I’m calm about it, while the rest of my family are on eggshells waiting for the new arrival. She’ll come when she comes. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my time and just read and do any last minute things.

June: // was an okay month for reading. I don’t what happened. I checked out many books from the library and even read books from Scribd, but there just wasn’t enough “yes!” books. You know the type of book where you want to grab the nearest person and make them read it? Those. Some standouts from last month includes:


Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices edited by Lisa Charleyboy. I spoke about this anthology last week. It’s good to see current work by indigenous people, especially young people. We need more books like this one.

lynchThe Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton and Don Tate. I’m always on the lookout for good nonfiction to share with my kids. Plus, nonfiction picture books are a great way of learning about people and events that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise. John Roy Lynch spent most of his childhood a slave until about the age of fifteen. After that, he took on a number of jobs before becoming a portrait photographer, then a justice of the peace, and finally elected into Congress in a matter of a decade. Lynch’s life was pretty inspirational.


Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle. This was another inspirational nonfiction picture book. Decades ago, Cuba had this taboo against women playing the drums or becoming a drummer. As a young girl, Millo Castro Zaldarriaga wanted nothing more than to play the drums. It was her passion. Finally, her father relented and got her a teacher who believed that Millo was one of the best drummers he met. The young girl took off and even started an all-girl band with her older sisters, becoming world famous.


Blueprint Homeschooling: How to Plan a Year of Home Education That Fits the Reality of Your Life by Amy Knepper. With school starting in a little bit over a month, Blueprint Homeschooling was just the book I needed to help me plan the upcoming year. Knepper takes readers step-by-step through planning a whole school year in a matter of weeks. I found the book to be so helpful and it makes things less overwhelming. It was also refreshing to see her mention resources that beginner and veteran homeschoolers can use.


Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. The basics: a kick-ass young girl who loves to kill and is the sidekick to a local villain. Plus, she’s a shapeshifter. If you haven’t read this book already, you should. It’s much more than it seems. Noelle Stevenson can’t produce things fast enough for me.

Now you know my favorites books of June. What were yours?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon
Time: // 5:13 a.m.

The scene: // I’m sitting in bed as the house sleeps. Insomnia has hit me pretty hard in the last few weeks, so as usual, I’ve been up for several hours.
Drinking: // water.

Reading: // I read several books last week, mainly children’s books. One that stood out was Dreaming in Indian, an anthology of poetry, essays, and short stories by indigenous youth. The latest volume of the Fables series stood out, but not for the best reasons. I found the sudden turn of events and drastic personality makeovers from the main characters to be disappointing, which is sad since there’s only one volume left in the series.

With my due date fast approaching this week, I really want to read as much as possible. After my daughter’s birth, I know I won’t have the time or energy for much. On my reading stack are:

  • Between the World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (nonfiction)
  • Find the Good by Heather Lende (nonfiction)
  • Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (middle grade/YA)
  • Rat Queens Vol. 2 –Kurtis J. Wiebe (a reread)
  • Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam (nonfiction)
  • Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper (middle grade)
  • The Martian by Andy Weir (fiction). I’m probably one of the few people who haven’t read this yet. Luckily, The Socratic Salon is having an upcoming read-along for it.

Looking at my list, I notice some adult fiction is missing. I need to change that.

The past few weeks: // have been so emotional for this country. First, there was the Charleston massacre, which is such a horrendous thing. Then, there was the latest Supreme Court rulings. I had no faith in the SCOTUS, but found myself amazed and thankful that the Affordable Care Act was left alone. Then for SCOTUS to decide that marriage equality is now the law of the land?! Omg! Love. Love wins. Love should always win.

Now I’m off: // to have a sip of coffee and read a bit before the kids wake up.

What are your plans for today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: On Recovery

sunday salonTime: // 5: 23 a.m.

The scene: // The house is quiet as I listen to the birds chirp outside. I’m sitting here with my thoughts and there’s so much to try and process.

I named this post “On Recovery” because right now I’m recovering physically from being really sick early in the week and emotionally from all that’s happening in the United States. Nine people were gunned down on Wednesday at Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina during Bible Study. Nine people who were murdered because they’re black. They were parents and grandparents, coaches and college students, librarians and pillars in their community. They were loved. They were human beings.

As a black person, I don’t often mention things about race on my blog. Often, like now, I feel like it’s so hard to put my thoughts and feelings into a coherent post. But being silent about things that matter like race and privilege and being so talkative about things that don’t like book giveaways or whatnot is part of the problem that’s going on in this world. Book blogs try to stay focused on the subject, but as people, we are not one-dimensional. Things happen and they affect us. So why not speak about it?

As I pray for the victims’ families, I’m hurt, angry, and shock. People often act as though our society is post-racial though it’s anything but.

It’s a world that’s filled with hatred and acts of violence based on skin color, religion, and gender.

It’s a world that’s filled with love and forgiveness as we’ve seen with the families of the dead.

It’s a world that’s filled with courage as Joy and her friends stand every weekend to point out that “black lives matter” and Jill posts about a diverse and important number of subjects about the world.

It’s also a world that’s filled with hope as people come together to pray and openly talk.

You may not know how to contribute to the conversation. Listen to what others are saying. Speak up even if it means offending or losing the support of family or friends. It may be hard, but isn’t it harder living in a world where horrific things of this nature happen? Acts of hatred and terrorism cannot be fought by being silent or on the defense. That’s not how the world is going to change.

Emily Perper at LongReads compiled a small list of online reading about the massacre.

Thanks to Evelyn for pointing out #CharlestonSyllabus, a list of selected readings that educators have gathered to talk about race and race relations in the U.S.

Speak up.

fairy tales, Fantasy, fiction, Middle Grade, reviews

Short review: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste


The Jumbies
Tracey Baptiste
240 pages
Published in April 2015 by Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Public Library

The other kids in Corrine La Mer’s small Caribbean village may believe in jumbies, but she doesn’t. Who would really believe in fairy-like creatures that can shed their skin and put it back on or snatch kids into the forest? Life in her village is pretty quiet until a mysterious woman named Severine suddenly appears. The young girl knows trouble is brewing when she finds Severine at her house, trying to get close to Corrine’s father. After the stranger’s jumbie nature and plan to take over the island is exposed, every human is in danger. It will take all of Corrine’s courage, her misfit friends, and belief in magic to fight Severine. Can she help save everyone in time?

I picked up The Jumbies after seeing its creepy cover online. A young brown girl in a dark forest with glowing yellow eyes watching her? Count me in. Plus, the book takes place in the Caribbean and it’s based on Caribbean fairy tales?! Yes and yes.

I’m used to mostly European fairy tales like “Cinderella” and “Little Red”, so to find the rare book that deals with Caribbean fairy tales is something not to miss. Author Tracey Baptiste takes the fairy tales from her childhood and gives readers an engaging story that makes us want more books that feature fairy tales from non-European cultures. Publishers, are you listening?!

Think of jumbies as fairies in various forms. Baptiste does a fantastic job of bringing these creatures and their surroundings to life without making things confusing or explaining every single detail. That’s something I’ve noticed in a few children’s books lately when it comes to cultural aspects that a mainstream audience may not know about.

While the elements of fantasy were interesting, this isn’t a perfect book. At times I wanted more from the writing, but the plot did keep my attention. I thought it was strange that the protagonist was friendless at first in such a small village. I also wanted to know more about the local witch whose back story was suddenly included at the end without much support.

Even with the problems I had with this book, I can’t wait to read it with my kids. The Jumbies is a unique middle grade story that kids and adults will enjoy. My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.



Time: // 5: 43 a.m. Tuesday morning. Everyone is asleep and the house is so quiet. It’s such a rare thing to experience.

The scene: // I’ve been trying for the past two days to write a post, but to no avail. Two of the kids have been sick with various things, I had a killer migraine, and there were countless errands and chores to do around the house. Now that all of that is out the way, I can sit here quietly and gather my thoughts.

This weekend: // my city had their first annual Beach Streets event, where they closed down a major street to cars and opened it up to bikes, pedestrians, skateboards. . . almost anything that moved. I took my kids and sisters to this fun event that lasted most of the day. It’s funny how the idea of closing down a street to let people walk and ride could be so much fun. It was one of the best events my city has ever hosted.

Last week I read: // a ton of children’s books and Syllabus by Lynda Barry. The thing I’ve come to understand about Barry is that in each work of hers, there’s always a question that she needs to explore. In Syllabus she brings together several questions that she’s had about art and images, but also how can keeping a daily notebook help us transfer the things we think about, that are inside us to something more solid on paper and to others.

The book’s form is so unique. It’s like a composition notebook with so much color and images on each page. There’s also a lot of inspiration to be found. I don’t think I’m going to buy a copy of Syllabus, but I can see why so many people want to. My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Next up is: // a ton of books! There’s so much that I want to read. My boys are reluctant readers, so I’m trying to find fantastic middle grade books that I can share with the two of them this summer. This week I’m trying to read and finish:

Monday Collage

Monday Collage2

  • Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger
  • The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste. It has such a creepy cover and it has to do with creatures from Carribean fairy tales.
    How often can a reader say that?
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. I’m probably one of the few people who haven’t read this book yet. If you haven’t picked up the Lumberjanes yet, you need to change that.
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby.

I’m looking forward to reading all five books this week. Most of them have already been named a favorite book of the year by various sources I follow. And it’s only June!

Thinking about: // The Worst Kind of Groundhog Day: Let’s Talk (Again) About Diversity in Publishing by Roxanne Gay. Just.Read.It.

Now I’m off to: // enjoy my coffee.

How’s your Tuesday morning going? What are you looking forward to today?

homeschooling, reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 8:04 a.m.

The scene: // As usual, I’m sitting at my desk in the living room. I spend a lot of time at this spot, doing research, reading, or just watching my kids play outside.

Drinking: // coffee.


Reading: // Syllabus by Lynda Barry. I started it earlier in the week and though it’s a short book, I’m taking my time reading it. Barry has been a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a few years now and Syllabus is about some of her past classes. The book includes syllabi, assignments, and is done in that typical Barry style: composition book-like pages and filled with images. I can see why Joy enjoyed this book so much.

Thinking about: // the power of storytelling. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. Avid readers love stories and there are some themes we gravitate to, while ignoring others. Stories have the power to change us and give us words to experiences that we ourselves couldn’t voice.

With my daughter starting high school next year, I have the opportunity to create her English class. Previous classes offered for homeschooled high schoolers have been pretty bland, filled exclusively with busywork, books that were written at least forty years ago, and all the authors are white. Nope. That’s not for us.

So I’m starting from scratch: going over standards while figuring out what we should explore from themes to books, documentaries to podcasts. It’s scary, yet exciting at the same time. It also means that I have a ton of reading ahead like old favorites such as To Kill a Mockingbird, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Persepolis, American Born Chinese, and more. I have my work cut out for me.

Enjoying: // my last few weeks of pregnancy! I have four weeks left and it’s exciting, though I hope time flies by. I can’t wait to meet my baby girl.

Now I’m off to: // figure out what’s for breakfast. These kids aren’t going to feed themselves (though they’re old enough to).

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: It’s finally summer!

sunday salonTime: // 8:28 a.m.

The scene: // It’s a cold and cloudy Sunday morning, not your typical setting when you think of summer but it feels good.

The last day of school was Friday, so I’m spending the weekend packing up old textbooks, correcting tests, writing my last learning record of the year, and decluttering our homeschooling space. It feels good to have the school year done with. I plan on writing down what went right (and wrong) about this school year, and any new changes I’m thinking about implementing. Lesson planning will start in a few days.

Reading: // I’m currently diving into the middle grade class, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo with the kids. It’s a fantastic read aloud and I can see why it’s won so many awards.

Participating in: // The 7th Annual #bookaday challenge. The challenge started a little more than a week ago and I decided to join in this summer. I’m hoping to read a ton of books. Well, at least before the baby arrives in early July. You can find the challenge on Instagram and Twitter.

Now I’m off: // to read blog posts.

What are you up to today?

Readathon, reading

#BoutofBooks 13 Master Post and Goals


I’m usually not someone who dislikes Mondays, but today is starting off a bit rough. Insomnia kicked in last night and I didn’t get much sleep. One of the best things about today is that it’s the first day of the Bout of Books read-a-thon, a week-long reading event where participants read as much or as little as they want.

I don’t often participate in this event, but I haven’t finished a book since Dewey’s Read-a-thon. It’s time for me to get my butt into gear and read instead of playing Candy Crush Saga.

I plan on picking my reading pile as I go, but three books that I definitely plan on getting to this week are:

PicMonkey Collage

March Book Two by John Lewis and Nate Powell (Thanks for the reminder, Sarah!)
Rat Queens Vol. 2 by Kurtis I. Wiebe
No Matter the Wreckage: Poems by Sarah Kay (A leftover from Dewey’s read-a-thon)

My goal is to read for at least one hour every day and to stay offline when I can. We’ll see how it goes.

Are you participating in Bout of Books 13? Do you have any tips for a newbie like me?

Monday update

It’s only 6 p.m., but I’m going to write an update now because I’m exhausted!

Read: Rat Queens Vol. 2, “The Six Swans” and “The Almond Tree” by the Brothers Grimm.

Thoughts: The short stories were creepy and Rat Queens was pretty good.

Pages read: 143

Tuesday Update

Allergies have been kicking our asses over here, so the only reading I was able to get done was children’s books with my youngest, Avram. My poor baby boy. He’s absolutely miserable, but it seems like reading to him calms him somewhat. That and Benadryl. We read:

  • Blue on Blue by Dianne White
  • The Bear’s Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud
  • The Iridescence of Birds: A Book about Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan
  • The Backwards Birthday Party by Tom Chapin
  • In Mary’s Garden by Tina Kugler

Blue on Blue and The Backwards Birthday Party were our favorites.

Next up: I’m not sure. We left the house briefly to go to the library and returned with a ton of books, including YA and anime for my daughter and graphic novels and picture books for the rest of us.

How are you guys doing? Read anything interesting?

Readathon, reading, Reading Events

Bout of Books 13


I did pretty well with Dewey’s Readathon and now I’ve decided to participate in Bout of Books, the week-long readathon. Hopefully, it’ll help me get through May’s tbr pile. Want to know more about the event?

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Are you going to sign up?


Looking forward to May

Usually, I’m the type of person who changes the calendar on days before the month ends, always eager for a new start. Nowadays, all the months look the same as I count down until my July due date. For May, I’m celebrating my mom’s birthday and the end of the homeschooling year. I’m also steadily trying to shrink my physical tbr (to be read) stack.

Surprisingly, I’ve read a ton of books last month. 21 books to be exact. My favorites were:

Lumberjanes Vols. 1-9 by Noelle Stevenson (comics)
A Child is Born by Lennart Nilsson (nonfiction)
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (middle grade)
Ms. Marvel Vol. 2: Generation Why by Willow G. Wilson (comics)

Now that May’s here, I scoured my tbr shelves and found the following books to tackle:


Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (for next week’s Socratic Salon discussion)
Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson (fiction)
The Best American Essays 2011 by Edwidge Danticat (I started this collection years ago and never finished it.)
When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka (fiction)
The Voice of the River by Melanie Rae Thon (fiction)
For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu (fiction)
Economix: How Our Economy Works (And Doesn’t Work) by Michael Goodwin (graphic nonfiction)
Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein (nonfiction)
The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission by Jim Bell (nonfiction)
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (fiction)

Some of these reads are pretty heavy, but I’m hoping that I can get through them all by the end of the month. I’m already in the middle of Economix and Citizen and both are really good reads with post-its sticking out.

What are you looking forward to reading in May? Do you make a monthly tbr list?